• Quake-proofing U.S. buildings

    An Indian civil engineer has invented a sleeved column braces which help buildings withstand earthquakes; the sturdy brace apparatus surrounds a core of high-performance steel, but is spaced from the sides of the core; the sleeve thus absorbs and dissipates energy, but does not buckle under pressure; several large buildings in California, built in the last few years, have adopted the technology

  • U.S. structural engineers begin on-site damage assessments in Haiti

    U.S. engineers are going to Haiti to study the earthquake and its ramifications for structural engineering; the structural engineers emergency response committee (SEER) of the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) — the SEER consists of volunteer structural engineers trained in the structural engineering aspects of emergency response to earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters — is in talks with the U.S. government and the private sector to identify ways in which the structural engineering community can lend its talents, skills and experience

  • Scientists anxious about other big quakes

    The Haitian earthquake may have increased the chance of a future quake in the neighboring Dominican Republic and other parts of the Caribbean; during the Haitian quake, only 30 to 60 miles of the 300-mile fault near Port-au-Prince ruptured and slid; the rest of it stayed stuck, still glued together by friction; the area that ruptured is likely to have increased the amount of strain — and the risk of quake — in other parts of the fault

  • Haiti’s lack of building standards major contributor to scope of disaster

    One of the major contributors to the magnitude of the disaster in Haiti was the fact that there were no building codes in the country – a study done by the Organization of American States (OAS) concluded last month that many of the buildings in Haiti were so shoddily constructed that they were unlikely to survive any disaster, let alone an earthquake like the one that devastated Port-au-Prince last Tuesday

  • WHOI expert: Haiti quake occurred in complex, active seismic region

    Most of the time, the earth’s plates do not slide smoothly past one another; they stick in one spot for perhaps years or hundreds of years, until enough pressure builds along the fault and the landmasses suddenly jerk forward to relieve the pressure, releasing massive amounts of energy throughout the surrounding area; in Haiti, the tremor was centered just 10 miles southwest of the capital city, Port au Prince, and the quake was shallow — only about 10-15 kilometers below the land’s surface

  • U.S. aging infrastructure a national security concern

    There many immediate and long-term economic benefits to investing in shoring up the U.S. crumbling infrastructure – but investing in creating a robust and resilient infrastructure is essential for national security as well: because the United States is the world’s dominant military power, the only real way for enemies to attack the country is through its infrastructure, including cyberspace, making infrastructure resilience critical

  • Why the U.S. needs an infrastructure bank

    The U.S. aging infrastructure will eventually constrain economic growth; government alone can no longer finance all of the nation’s infrastructure requirements; a national infrastructure bank (NIB) could fill the gap; the NIB could attract private funds to co-invest in projects that pass rigorous cost-benefit tests, and that generate revenues through user fees or revenue guarantees from state and local governments; investors could choose which projects meet their investment criteria, and, in return, share in project risks that today fall solely on taxpayers

  • The 106-foot San Clemente to be torn down, largest dam removal in California

    California dam inspectors declared the San Clemente dam unsafe in 1991, at risk of collapse in a major earthquake; “In 1921, this dam was a marvel of engineering. It has fulfilled its purpose and its usefulness is behind us,” said Rob MacLean, president of the California American Water Co., which owns the dam

  • Flood-prone state road gets temporary fix

    A section of Route 12, just north of the village of Rodanthe, North Carolina, increasingly has become flood-prone over the past decade due in part to rapid beach erosion in the area; wind-driven waves from a slow-moving mid-November storm buckled and undermined approximately 800 ft of pavement, flattened 900 ft of 15-ft to 20-ft-high sand dunes, and damaged hundreds of sandbags placed by NCDOT following a 2007 storm event; the North Carolina Department of Transportation has decided to relocate 1,800-ft-long stretch of the highway

  • Levee statistics show their importance to U.S. economy

    Counties with levees account for only 28 percent of the U.S. counties and only 37 percent of the U.S. land area – but they contain 55 percent of the U.S. population, more than 156 million people; the total productivity for counties containing levees was nearly 3.3 times greater than it was in those without levees; the average annual income of residents was $1,500 more, and the rate of poverty was 2 percent lower

  • Security and building design: A decade of change and adaptation

    The cumulative influence of major building security-related events — the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, the 1996, the destruction of the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building happened in 1995, and the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers – have led architects and engineers to rethink building security

  • Dam in Massachusetts raises concerns in Eastern Connecticut

    The condition of 40-year old dam in Massachusetts is deteriorating fast, and communities downstream in Connecticut are worried; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking at ways to shore up the 560 feet long and 78 feet high dam

  • Large dams linked to more extreme weather patterns

    A new study looked at the magnitude of the biggest storms near 633 of the world’s largest dams before and after construction; they found that in many places the level of precipitation in the most extreme rainfall events grew by an average of 4 percent per year after a dam was built, with the relationship especially strong in semi-arid regions

  • Visualizing climate change in the Bay Area

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveils the CalAdapt Web site — a Web site developed by the California Energy Commission in conjunction with Google and the Stockholm Environment Institute; the site contains a Google Earth tour, narrated by Governor Schwarzenegger, of projected impacts of climate change on California, including snow pack loss, increased risk of fire, and sea level rises; CalAdapt’s unveiling coincided with the release of the “California Climate Adaptation Strategy,” which outlines recommendations for coping with climate change in urban planning, agriculture, water conservation, and other sectors.

  • New Orleans $1-billion flood defense revised

    To head off a possible $150-million to $300-million cost overrun on the $1-billion Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex in New Orleans, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has redesigned the waterway; trading off some “nice to haves” for necessities.